Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 2009 - A Month Like Any Other?

This may seem like a morbid idea for a post, but recent events spurred me to search for a list. A lot of people have been repeating the statistical meme that “deaths occur in threes.” This can be difficult to disprove, as our brains like to categorize and group things, and three is a number that comes naturally when we group items together. Other people seem to think something is 'weird' about the number of notable deaths that have occurred recently. (Which actually is an opposing meme, because if deaths did occur in threes, it wouldn't be weird.)

Of course it is Wikipedia that comes to the rescue – with a continually updated list of recent deaths completely free from geographical biases. I think most people will come away from the list with the decision that 'deaths come in 1s'.

This random generator picks 9 dates in a month, and occasionally the results do suggest 3 in succession. It's what you'd expect from a random generator.

The list on Wikipedia may be longer than you expect, as the individuals who are Notable in America differ from those Notable in Italy or Pakistan. Wikipedia covers a worldwide audience. My selected list below is going to be geographically biased as well, though I tried to pick a handful from other nations. There will almost certainly be individuals in the list linked to above that readers will think I should have included below. That is almost the point. Almost every day of the month is represented.

By the way, in case you were under the false impression that Jackson and Fawcett once both appeared on the same Tonight Show episode, with Carson's sidekick McMahon – Snopes has debunked this rumor.

Selected Notable deaths in June 2009

June 2
  • Paul O. Williams – American Science Fiction author, and haiku poet
  • FrancEYE – (Frances Elizabeth Dean) American poet, noted perhaps most for her relationship with Charles Bukowski, with whom she had a daughter.
  • David Eddings – best-selling American fantasy author
June 3
  • David Carradine – American Actor
June 4
  • Ward Costello – American Actor
June 5
  • George Edward Whalen – American Medal of Honor recipient for actions at Iwo Jima
June 6
  • Ola Hudson – American costume designer for musicians such as The Pointer Sisters, and David Bowie. Mother of musician Saul Hudson (aka Slash from Guns n Roses)
  • Jean Dausset – French immunologist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine
June 7
  • Kenny Rankin – American singer/songwriter – song ‘peaceful’ became hit for Helen Reddy
June 8
  • Johnny Palermo – American television character actor for the past 5 years, many roles, movie debut scheduled for release in Oct 2009 – age 27
[Note: The 27 Club, another mathematical death meme, usually reserved for musicians, began with the deaths of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janice Joplin within 10 months of each other. At least, they're usually the ‘three’ listed. Leaving out Brian Jones, founding member of The Rolling Stones, who died one year earlier. Our minds just like the number three better.]
  • Sheila Finestone – member of Canadian Parliament 1984-1999, Canadian Senate 1999-2002
  • Omar Bongo Ondimba – President of Gabon 1967-2009 (Gabon is a country in West Central Africa.)
June 9
  • Dave Simons – American comic book artist (best known for his work on Ghostrider)
  • Dick May – American NASCAR driver
June 10
  • Huey Long – American musician, Ink Spots
June 11
  • Frank Low – American physicist – leader in infrared astronomy - has an asteroid named after him
June 12
  • Felix Malloum – President of Chad – 1975-1979
June 13
  • John Saville – British economic and social historian
June 14
  • Bob Bogle – American musician, founding member of The Ventures
June 17
  • Dusty Rhodes – American Major League Ballplayer for the Giants in the 1950s.
June 18
  • Iz the Wiz – American graffiti artist, featured in the 1983 documentary Style Wars
  • Hortensia Bussi – First lady of Chile 1970-1973, widow of President Salvador Allende
June 19
  • Shelly Gross – American Broadway producer, and promoter of concerts
June 20
  • Neda Agha-Soltan – Iranian student who’s shooting during election riots was captured on video
June 22
  • Sam B Williams – American inventor of the fan-jet engine
  • Eddie Preston – American Jazz trumpeter
June 23
  • Ed McMahon – American actor
  • Ismet Güney – Cypriot artist, designer of the Cyprus national flag.
June 24
  • Roméo LeBlanc – Governor General of Canada 1995-1999
  • Tim Krekel – American musician, songwriter
June 25
  • Michael Jackson – American singer/songwriter
  • Farrah Fawcett – American actress
  • Sky Saxon – American musician (The Seeds)
  • Don Coldsmith – Prolific American author of Westerns – Redefined Westerns by adopting Native American point of view.
June 26
  • Jo Amar – Moroccan born Israeli singer; associated with Mizrahi music
June 27
  • Gale Storm – American actress, star of My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show
June 28
  • Billy Mays – American television ‘direct response salesperson’, and host of “Pitchmen”
  • A. K. Lohithadas – Indian screenwriter, director.
June 29
  • Mohammad Hoqouqi - Iranian poet
June 30
  • Pina Bausch - German modern dance choreographer
June 25, 2009 will likely be a day remembered by many music fans, similar to August 9, 1995; December 8, 1980; August 16, 1977, and February 3, 1959. In that way, June 2009 is not a month like any other.

However, the overall list of notable deceased is significantly longer than the American press spend the time to mourn. June 2009 had several American Entertainers. Other months will have less entertainers, and more of something else. That's how statistics work. It doesn't make June 2009 any more or less unique. There is nothing 'weird' about it. This shouldn't detract from our memories of any of the individuals who have died. Their lives are of course equally worthy of mourning regardless of when they happen to die.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Not sure what happened there

Just logged into the administration panel and realized the Amanuensis Monday post I had scheduled to appear at 12:01 this morning was still marked "scheduled". The time and date was correct, it just hadn't published. So I clicked on "publish" again and that seems to have done the trick.

But in case anyone came by today - used to seeing my Monday morning transcription and wondered where it was - it was a temporary victim to an unexplained software glitch.

Amanuensis Monday: A marriage in 90 lines

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

My maternal grandmother was married three times. The first in 1919 lasted briefly, and I know little about the husband beyond his first name. The second lasted about ten days shy of three months in 1927. I know a lot of details about those three months - from 90 lines in the divorce complaint filed by her husband.

The short of it is my grandmother wasn't ready for marriage yet, and it didn't take her long to figure that out. (She kept a copy of the complaint in a box with other mementos - I would never have known to check California court records for any marriages or divorces.)

5 Plaintiff
6 VS.
8 Defendant )
10 Plaintiff complains of defendant and for cause of action
11 alleges:

12 I

13 That plaintiff and defendant were intermarried at
14 Oakland, California, on the 30th day of April, 1927.

15 II

16 That plaintiff has been a resident of the State of
17 California for more than one year and of the City and County of
18 San Francisco, in said state, for more than three months next
19 preceding the commencement of this action.

20 III

21 That plaintiff and defendant separated on or about the
22 19th day of July, 1927; that the length of time from marriage
23 to separation was about two months and twenty days.

24 IV

25 That there are no minor children the issue of said mar-
26 riage; that there is no community property belonging to plaintiff
27 and defendant.

28 V

29 That since the said marriage and prior to the commence
30 ment of this action, defendant has treated plaintiff in a most

Page 2

1 cruel and inhuman manner, and more particularly as follows, to
2 wit:

3 That on or about the first day of July, 1927, while
4 Plaintiff and defendant were at their home in San Francisco,
5 California, and entertaining company, the defendant, without
6 cause or provocation on the part of plaintiff or any other per-
7 son, became angry, left plaintiff and their company, retired
8 to her room and went to bed, without bidding their said com-
9 pany good night.

10 That during the month of May, 1927, defendant
11 left plaintiff and stated that she was going to Kansas City
12 to visit her brother who, she claimed, was sick at that time,
13 and was gone for the period of about one month, that for more
14 than three weeks of said time she did not write to plaintiff but
15 once, and not until after he had telegraphed to her to ascertain
16 the cause of her silence.

17 That after defendant returned to their said home in San
18 Francisco, defendant assumed an entirely different attitude
19 toward plaintiff, their home and affairs, and seemingly took
20 no interest in plaintiff or their said home whatever, and on
21 many and various occasions expressed, by words and deeds, her
22 dissatisfaction with plaintiff and her married life in general,
23 continually alluding to what she would or would not have her
24 next husband do, ridiculing plaintiff in everything he did, and
25 continually threatening to leave plaintiff.

26 That on or about the 8th day of June 1927, while
27 plaintiff and defendant were visiting mutual friends in San
28 Francisco, their hostess absented herself from the room for a
29 short period of time, and while she was gone, defendant insisted
30 on putting on her coat to start home, without waiting for the

Page 3

1 return of her hostess.

2 That on or about the 19th day of July, 1927, upon plain-
3 tiff's return to their said home, plaintiff found a note written
4 by defendant, stating that while she was in Kansas City she did
5 not want to return, but was prevailed upon to do so by her broth-
6 er, and stating that she was going to leave, and that she knew he
7 felt something lacking in her, that she was not cut out for
8 married life, and that she was gong to go to El Paso, Texas.

9 That the following day and on or about the 20th of July,
10 1927, plaintiff received another letter written by defendant,
11 stating that it seemed to her a force stronger than herself com-
12 pelled her on, and that she did not know why she could not be
13 like other people.

14 That all the acts and things herein complained of have
15 and do cause plaintiff great and grievous mental suffering,
16 and humiliation.

17 WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays judgment that the bonds of
18 matrimony heretofore and now existing between plaintiff and de-
19 fendant be forever dissolved.

21 Attorney for Plaintiff

24 DALE B. RIDGELY, being duly sworn, deposes and says: That
25 he is the plaintiff in the above entitled action; that he has
26 read the foregoing complaint and knows the contents thereof, and
27 that the same is true of his own knowledge, except as to matters
28 herein stated upon information and belief, and that as to those
29 matters he believes it to he true.


30 Subscribed and sworn to before me
this 12th day of August, 1927.

L.A. MURASKY, Court Commissioner
of the City and County of San Francisco,
State of California.

Some of the legalese is interesting, such as the term 'intermarried'. Marriage is usually 'between' people, so it seems a bit redundant.

Naturally, I am somewhat happy about the marriage not lasting, as it allowed my grandmother to return to St. Louis and meet my grandfather several years later.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Poetry: The Mounds of Cahokia - Micah P Flint

Last Friday I posted the classic poem by Longfellow, The Jewish Cemetery at Newport. I commented that Longfellow's concern for a 'dead race' amused me. Here's a poem by someone not nearly as well-known as Longfellow. He, too, visiting a burial site, remarks on what he considers a dead race.

The Mounds of Cahokia

by Micah P. Flint (1807-1830)

The sun's last rays were falling from the West,
The deepening shades stole slowly o'er the plain,
The evening breeze had lulled itself to rest:
And all was silent, save the mournful strain
With which the widowed turtle wooed in vain
Her absent lover to her lonely nest.

Now, one by one, emerging to the sight,
The brighter stars assumed their seats on high,
The moon's pale crescent glowed serenely bright,
As the last twilight fled along the sky,
And all her train in cloudless majesty
Were glittering on the dark, blue vault of night.

I lingered, by some soft enchantment bound,
And gazed, enraptured, on the lovely scene.
From the dark summit of an Indian mound
I saw the plain, outspread in softened green,
Its fringe of hoary cliffs, by moonlight sheen,
And the dark line of forest, sweeping round.

I saw the lesser mounds which round me rose,
Each was a giant mass of slumbering clay.
There slept the warriors, women, friends and foes.
There, side by side, the rival chieftains lay;
And mighty tribes, swept from the face of day,
Forgot their wars, and found a long repose.

Ye mouldering relics of departed years!
Your names have perished; not a trace remains,
Save, where the grass-grown mound its summit rears
From the green bosom of your native plains.
Say! Do your spirits wear oblivion's chains?
Did death forever quench your hopes and fears?

Or live they, shrined in some congenial form?
What if the swan, who leaves her summer nest
Among the northern lakes, and mounts the storm,
To wing her rapid flight to climes more blest,
Should hover o'er the very spot where rest
The crumbling bones once with her spirit warm.

What if the song, so soft, so sweet, so clear,
Whose music fell so gently from on high,
In tones aerial, thrilling my rapt ear;
Though not a speck was on the cloudless sky,
Were their own soft funereal melody,
While lingering o'er the scenes that once were dear?

Or did those fairy hopes of future bliss,
Which simple Nature to your bosoms gave
Find other worlds with fairer skies than this,
Beyond the gloomy portals of the grave,
In whose bright bowers the virtuous and the brave
Rest from their toils, and all their cares dismiss?

Where the great hunter still pursues the chase,
And o'er the sunny mountains tracks the deer,
Or finds again each long-extinguished race,
And sees once more the mighty mammoth rear
The giant form which lies embedded here,
Of other years the sole remaining trace.

Or it may be that still ye linger near
The sleeping ashes, once your dearest pride;
And, could your forms to mortal eye appear,
Could the dark veil of death be thrown aside,
Then might I see your restless shadows glide,
With watchful care, around these relics dear.

If so, forgive the rude, unhallowed feet,
Which trode so thoughtless o'er your mighty dead.
I would not thus profane their low retreat,
Nor trample where the sleeping warrior's head
Lay pillowed on its everlasting bed,
Age after age, still sunk in slumbers sweet.

Farewell; and may you still in peace repost.
Still o'er you may the flowers, untrodden, bloom,
And gently wave to every wind that blows,
Breathing their fragrance o'er each lonely tomb,
Where, earthward mouldering, in the same dark womb,
Ye mingle with the dust, from whence ye rose.
MICAH P. FLINT, son of Timothy Flint, who rendered eminent service in the cultivation and encouragement of literature in the Mississippi valley, was born in Lurenberg, Massachusetts, about the year 1807. While Micah was yet a boy, his father selected the west as a field for missionary labor, and the young poet received his education, with his father for tutor, at St. Louis, New Madrid, New Orleans, and Alexandria, Mississippi, to which places Rev. Mr. Flint's engagements as a missionary successively called him. When failing health finally required his father to suspend his labors as a minister, Micah studied law and was admitted to the bar at Alexandria, but was not permitted to become known as a lawyer. His first published poem was on a mound that stood near a farm-house in Cahokia prairie, Illinois, to which for a few months, when his health required a respite from severe labors, his father took the family. -- William Turner Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West: With Biographical and Critical Notices 55-56 (Columbus, Ohio: Follett, Foster and Company, 1860)
'Not permitted to become known as a lawyer' is a 19th century euphemism. Micah died at age 23. He had one collection of poetry: The Hunter and Other Poems.

The Cahokia Mounds are immediately across the Mississippi river from St. Louis, Missouri. Mounds were built on both sides of the river, and a recent article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch talked of efforts to preserve Sugar Loaf Mound. The Osage tribe believes the mounds were built by their ancestors.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Deuteronomy 16:20

The theme for the 75th Carnival of Genealogy is Justice and Independence.

This is timely for those of both American and Canadian roots as Canadian Independence Day is July 1st, and US Independence Day is July 4th.

We were asked for this issue of the carnival to:
1) Tell a story of an ancestor(s) who fought for freedom.
2) Tell a story about how Independence Day was celebrated by your ancestors.
3) Post the lyrics of a song that exemplifies how Justice and Independence have worked in the lives of your ancestors and/or family.
I considered where my focus should be. It can be argued my Confederate ancestor, Ebenezer Denyer, was fighting for his concept of justice, though I disagree with it, and I don't truly know his motives.

A case can be made for my United Empire Loyalist ancestors fighting for their sense of justice as well, even though it differed from the sense of justice held by the revolutionaries, the ultimate victors of the war, and the reason for which we celebrate US Independence Day.

I thought about interviewing my parents on their activities during the civil rights movement, or about my paternal grandfather, Melvin Newmark's activities with the St. Louis chapter of B'nai B'rith, which advocates for human rights internationally. This is definitely something I wish to do at some point, but now wasn't the time.

I've learned through my research that my second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, was active in the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, a Chevra Kadisha, or 'holy society.' It concentrated on providing free burials to all, treating rich and poor equally, so that indigent families need feel no shame at such a critical time. 1 (Not freedom or independence, but definitely justice.)

For the 59th CoG I argued apathy is foreign to my genes. I was raised on the music of Peter, Paul & Mary, and The Kingston Trio. I was raised on the words of Deuteronomy, Chapter 16, Verse 20:

(Justice, justice, shall you pursue.)

After much thought, I've decided to go with the third option. The choice of an appropriate song that exemplifies how I was raised to view the importance of pursuing justice for all. If I Had a Hammer. Written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, one of the best known recordings is by Peter, Paul and Mary. Below is a video of the trio singing it in 1963.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Surnames: Including Collateral Branches

After posting the recent Surname Wordle, I found this Word Frequency Counter, which allowed me to input the same text I entered into Wordle.net's script, and get an ordered list of surnames with the number of appearances. I then reorganized the information to my liking. What follows is every surname in my database with at least five individuals, grouped in order of frequency, with spelling variations grouped together. This is a good complement to my list of surnames of direct ancestors.

214 (C/K)R(U/OO/I)V(A/O)N(T/D) [Pretty much any way you can imagine a phonetic spelling exists.]





Amanuensis Monday: of pioneers, languages, and song

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue transcribing the tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, and his brother, Ted Deutsch, recorded in 1977. The Deutsch family immigrated to America in 1913, and the brothers are recalling their youth in the Transylvanian town of Almasu or Varalmas - depending upon whether you chose the Hungarian or Romanian language.

[Anything in brackets are my own notes]


Martin: Well I just wasn’t sure how big the house was, but it did have a fairly good roof I imagine
Ted: It had shingles, and didn’t leak. We never had trouble with leakage.
Martin: It was all one room. We did have a barnyard or something I’m sure to house the horse and buggy.
Ted: Well the horse and wagon was in the barn, and we had goats in the barn
Martin: We did raise chickens, I’m sure of that
Ted: Up in the loft we had hay stored for the animals
Martin: I think we raised chickens
Ted: Chicken coop right next to the barn
Martin: That was a big deal there I think for eggs
Ted: That’s right. Coming back to the room, it was a pretty large room and it had what you would call one room where we kept some utilities you might say. A little room added to the one room where we lived.
Martin: You saved the holiday dishes, the Pesach dishes, I’m satisfied. That had to be saved somewhere. We would take out once in a year.
Ted: It was more of a utility room – we kept things in there. Supplies, like flour and wheat.
Martin: When it came time to go to bed, of course you didn’t have electric lights
Ted: No we had gas lamps.
Martin: Oil lamps of some kind
Ted: We would burn lamps with kerosene.
Martin: But the kids…here you had about six seven kids, not older than 10, 11 years old.
Ted: That’s right, they didn’t all have beds either, they had to sleep down on the floor or alongside the floor.
Martin: Seven in a row.
Ted: That’s right we didn’t have seven beds or things like that. Two or three of us would sleep together in one.
Martin: Cot like things I suppose, we did have some padding of some kind I imagine
Ted: We had some kind of padding, I don’t recall what they were. We slept near the stove where it was warm. And there was one bed in the room for the parents. That’s about it.
Martin: That’s something. That’s really talking about a hard life. Talking about the parents being pioneers. Think about the pioneers in the new country. They didn’t have anything more difficult than that.
Ted: I’ll tell you, we weren’t the only ones living like that, everybody lived about the same way.
Martin: We occasionally had to struggle with the local population who didn’t have a high regard for Jews.
Ted: Well, there wasn’t very much of that at that time.
Martin: Well, that would go and come, because the background was there.
Ted: During the reign of Franz Joseph there was very little of that
Martin: It quieted down
Martin: Yeah, but, were we far away from Romania border
Ted: No, we were right on the border
Martin: Yeah, that’s what I thought too. And the river was probably the border.
Ted: No, that wasn’t he border. The section where we lived there were a lot of Romanians also living there with the Hungarians. They had their own school. They had the Romanian school. The Hungarians had a Hungarian school. And the Jews had a Jewish school.
Martin: Now, I know that we all could speak or spoke Romanian almost just like the native tongue. Because we were right there.
Ted: Well we were neighbors to the Romanians. On one side our neighbors were Romanians and the other side were Hungarians. We had to talk Hungarian and Romanian both.
Martin: And you had to talk Austrian which was German, which resembled Jewish [Yiddish] in any case, fortunately.
Ted: We talked Jewish to Jews in town. There were many Jews there.
Martin: Almost without any difference you might say you talked Hungarian and Romanian as if it were the native language.
Ted: Dad talked Hungarian. He talked Romanian just as fluently.
Martin: I would think so. You probably at one time knew Romanian just as fluently.
Ted: I do remember a few words
Martin: I remember a few words myself, but I sure can’t remember any ones I can repeat, but I think that what stayed in my mind were swear words like dunya bata zo [?] that’s god damn you, isn’t that. And that’s all I can remember. Laughter.
[break in tape]
Martin: You were saying, I’m on the record again, you were saying something about knowing a song you can sing which was half Hungarian and half Romanian. Go ahead and repeat that.
Ted: That’s the way they did when you went into conversation, sometimes you used both terms in a conversation, Hungarian and Romanian. Even songs were written and some of them went like this half Hungarian and half Romanian. For instance this song [link to mp3].

My grandfather mentioned frequently to me that his family had to know four languages: Romanian, Hungarian, German and Yiddish. I've tried to use Google Translate to figure out the curse he said. 'Zeu' is one of the Romanian words for 'god', so that might fit. I can't figure out the rest. Perhaps I'll have a reader with some understanding of Romanian who can help. I'd also love to get the half-Romanian/half-Hungarian song Ted sings translated.

My grandfather was six when they left for America - just about the right age to be learning the curse words from the older kids. I find it funny he says that none of the words he remembers he can repeat, and then he goes ahead and repeats it on a tape he meant to be preserved for the family.

My grandfather told me more than once they left Europe for economic, not religious reasons. I suspect my great grandfather, Samuel Deutsch, may have been proud to serve in Franz Joseph's army. However, while Emperor Franz Joseph granted the Austrian Jewish community equality of rights in 1867, the Deutsch family did live on the border of Austria-Hungary and Romania, and there was greater anti-semitism at that time on the Romanian side.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Surname Wordle

It's only been a few months since I did a Surname Wordle, but my database has undergone some growth since then.

Wordles create 'word clouds' where the more frequent a word appears in the submitted text, the larger it will be shown. So it seemed natural to input a list of surnames generated from my database - to see visually which family names are the most represented.

(Click to englarge)

Some of this is a little misleading. Early on I added my seventh cousin, Patrick Swayze, to my database, and to do so I had to input seven generations of Swayzes. The most distant Cruvant/Kruvant cousins in my database are fourth cousins, and the most distant Van Every cousins are fifth cousins. "Cohen" as a surname isn't exactly misleading, except it is a surname that appears in several lines, and the families aren't necessarily closely related to each other. There is even one branch of the Cruvant/Kruvant family that changed their name to Cohen.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - The Death Clock

For his weekly Saturday Night Genealogy Fun meme, Randy at Geneamusings tried out The Death Clock.

It's an online application that computes when you are likely to die with the following variables
1)Date of Birth
3)Mode of life (optimism, pessimism, sadism, normal)
4)Body Mass Index (BMI)
5)Smoking Status (non-smoker/smoker)

There is also a calculator that computes BMI with height and weight.

Plugging in my stats, it returned the date of November 25, 2059. I would be 90 years old. I calculated my BMI if I got down to my goal weight, and entered that information. I was granted an extra year.

When I say 'goal weight', the BMI would still be on the low-end of overweight. The weight to which I would need to drop to reach what they call 'desirable' is unrealistic, though according to this calculator, could extend my life to age 98.

However, that is if all other variables remain the same. I'm not sure if I could maintain my optimistic outlook on life if I did what I needed to do to reach and maintain that 'desirable' weight. A thin, pessimistic me would only live until 2026 (57 years old). Outlook on life seems to have a greater impact on longevity than weight.

Of course, I'm not going to use this as an excuse not to strive towards my goal. However, I will keep in mind that I shouldn't sacrifice my enjoyment of life in the effort, because that is counter productive. It's a balance, and I know I can lose a good 20-30 pounds, and remain happy; perhaps even be happier for it.

Of course, there are other variables that aren't included in the computation. I've been a non-smoker all my life. Someone who smoked for 20 years, but quit, is in the non-smoker category as well. Our risks aren't the same. Genetic predisposition to diseases such as cancer also are ignored.

Avoiding alcohol consumption when driving, staying out of war zones, and taking care of dogs or cats are other things that have been (or could be) statistically proven to have a positive effect on your longevity.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Poetry: The Jewish Cemetery at Newport - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I read a lot of poetry, and write it as well. I have posted poems here before, as can be seen by clicking on the Poetry label at the bottom of this post.

Almost every Friday I recite my poetry at a local open mic, so I thought Friday would be a good day of the week to share a weekly poem on a topic related to genealogy. Occasionally I will share my own poetry, but I am going to start off with a classic.

The Jewish Cemetery at Newport
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves,
Close by the street of this fair seaport town,
Silent beside the never-silent waves,
At rest in all this moving up and down!

The trees are white with dust, that o'er their sleep
Wave their broad curtains in the south-wind's breath,
While underneath these leafy tents they keep
The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.

And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,
That pave with level flags their burial-place,
Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down
And broken by Moses at the mountain's base.

The very names recorded here are strange,
Of foreign accent, and of different climes;
Alvares and Rivera interchange
With Abraham and Jacob of old times.

"Blessed be God! for he created Death!"
The mourners said, "and Death is rest and peace;"
Then added, in the certainty of faith,
"And giveth Life that nevermore shall cease."

Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,
No Psalms of David now the silence break,
No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue
In the grand dialect the Prophets spake.

Gone are the living, but the dead remain,
And not neglected; for a hand unseen,
Scattering its bounty, like a summer rain,
Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.

How came they here? What burst of Christian hate,
What persecution, merciless and blind,
Drove o'er the sea -- that desert desolate --
These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?

They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,
Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire;
Taught in the school of patience to endure
The life of anguish and the death of fire.

All their lives long, with the unleavened bread
And bitter herbs of exile and its fears,
The wasting famine of the heart they fed,
And slaked its thirst with marah of their tears.

Anathema maranatha! was the cry
That rang from town to town, from street to street;
At every gate the accursed Mordecai
Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet.

Pride and humiliation hand in hand
Walked with them through the world where'er they went;
Trampled and beaten were they as the sand,
And yet unshaken as the continent.

For in the background figures vague and vast
Of patriarchs and of prophets rose sublime,
And all the great traditions of the Past
They saw reflected in the coming time.

And thus forever with reverted look
The mystic volume of the world they read,
Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew book,
Till life became a Legend of the Dead.

But ah! what once has been shall be no more!
The groaning earth in travail and in pain
Brings forth its races, but does not restore,
And the dead nations never rise again.

Longfellow was a great poet, but not the best of historians. Whenever I read such lines as "Gone are the living, but the dead remain" and "dead nations never rise again" a quote of Mark Twain's comes to mind: The report of my death was an exaggeration. (link to handwritten note of Twain's...this quote is often reworded.)

However, Longfellow isn't to be completely blamed. The Touro Synagogue is the oldest Synagogue in America (estab. 1763), but from about 1781 to 1883 the Synagogue lay empty, though preserved. (The cemetery goes back to 1677) Timeline.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

74th Carnival of Genealogy has posted

The 74th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted over at Creative Gene. I count 32 entries in this Swimsuit Issue -- with I believe enough photographs to fill three Calendars!

For the 75th edition...
The COG topic for July 1 is “Justice and Independence ”. Since our beginnings as a nation, the United States of America has seen changes with every year, every decade, and every century. Each generation adds growth to our lives, our communities, and our nation. One thing that has never changed, however, is our desire for Justice for those who wrong us and Independence from those who try to oppress us. This month’s COG asks you to relate to these concepts of Justice and Independence in one or all of three ways: 1). Tell a story of an ancestor(s) who fought for freedom. 2). Tell a story about how Independence Day was celebrated by your ancestors. Did any of their celebratory traditions get passed down for your own family to continue? Or 3). Post the lyrics of a song that exemplifies how Justice and Independence have worked in the lives of your ancestors and/or family. Include photos! This edition of the COG will be hosted by Colleen at OMcHodoy. Deadline for submissions is July 1. More info on submission.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

14th Edition of Smile for the Camera has Posted

footnoteMaven has posted the 14th edition of Smile for the Camera at Shades of the Departed.

The theme was Wedding Belles. She noted that in my entry, my great grandfather's shoes were extremely well shined. I hadn't noticed, but I suspect as a professional tailor, he paid great attention to his appearance daily, and his normal care would have naturally increased on his wedding day.

The word prompt for the 15th Edition will be:
"They WORKED hard for the family." The professions of our ancestors are almost as interesting as the people themselves. Some of our ancestors worked very hard; they took in laundry, worked the land, raised many children, or went to school and became professionals. Photographs of them working are called occupational photographs and are rather hard to find. If you do have a photograph in your collection or family photographs, bring them to the Carnival. If not, post a photograph of one of your relatives or ancestors and tell us what they did for a living.

More information on submission guidelines

I believe I do have some occupational photographs, and I am already looking forward to putting a post together.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not The First

Apparently there are some today celebrating the 225th Anniversary of the "First landing of the United Empire Loyalists."
Like many in attendance at the Adolphustown event, Brock Dittrick can trace his family tree back to one of the first Loyalists to settle in Canada in 1784, Jacob Dittrick, who landed near St. Catharines.


More than 300 people took part in a re-enactment of the first landing of the Loyalists at Adolphustown following the American Revolution.
Both of these quotes may be accurate. He may have been the first to land at Adolphustown, and "one of the first" overall. However, throughout the rest of the article the modifier is dropped and it is implied he was the first Loyalist to settle in Canada.

Michael Showers was reported to have settled in Niagara on May 30, 1781. And "A survey of the Settlement at Niagara, 25th Aug. 1782" listed Michael Showers, McGregor Van Every, and both of their families (2 wives and 6 kids) for a total of 10 settlers.

I don't know if Michael Showers and McGregor Van Every were the first, but those dates predate 1784. I am descended from both of them through their children Sarah Showers and David Van Every - who were married in Niagara, Ontario in 1782. (I don't know if that was the first Loyalist marriage in Canada or not.) (see comments)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: Of Sewing Machines, Sóska, and Squealing Pigs

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Two weeks ago I posted the first 10 minutes of a tape my grandfather Martin Deutsch recorded with his brother, Ted in 1977. Below are the next ten minutes. They're still talking about their life in the village of Almasu/Varalmas in Transylvania in the first decade of the 20th century.


Martin: Ted, I’m going to stop it here and go back just to check and see if we’re doing OK. All right I’m getting back to earning a living. Mother used to sew, what did she sew, did she have a sewing machine?
Ted: She had a sewing machine
Martin: Of course, a treadle, we didn’t have any electricity there I don’t suppose, and she used to sew and probably bake, she was a smart cookie, she was a smart baker
Ted: She was a baker, but I don’t recall her baking for anybody. But she did sew because we had neighbors, and they brought in their clothes for repairs, alterations, fittings, and she would fit their children’s clothes, women’s clothes.
Martin: So she was a seamstress in a way
Ted: In a way she was a seamstress, and they would pay her in form of milk, or whatever else she wanted they would bring it to her.
Martin: I was talking to Bert yesterday and she was telling me that she remembered from discussions with you or anybody that there were a lot of goats being raised, and I do recall myself that there were goats for goat milk and cheese
Ted: We had goats at one time I remember we had about three goats
Martin: I thought we had a real flock of them.
Ted: No, not more. I don’t remember more than three, for if we had young ones we used to sell them to somebody else. You have to feed goats.
Martin: I know we didn’t have any pigs. (laughs)
Ted: No pigs we didn’t have
Martin: But they were raised in the community I guess, weren’t they, pigs, and cattle for milk
Ted: There were people raising pigs on their farm, I could listen to them once in awhile they were butchering.
Martin: Yeah, that’s right, butchering was very common, yes.
Ted: They would make their own bacon and pork chops.
Martin: I do recall that very clearly, all the squealing.
Ted: And then followed up with their – they would build a big fire and roast a pig in the fire outside.
Martin: I guess they’d roast the whole pig (Ted: that’s right) and they’d have it for the winter I suppose. Yeah, I do recall the squealing pigs. Now I was about…when we came away I was between five and six years old, so that I have a recollection there too. I was telling Bert yesterday that I recall this mountainside as children we would go up a hundred feet or so on a mountainside on an incline and roll down.
Ted: Yeah! That’s right, it was one of our past times, we used to roll down the mountainside.
Martin: And I remember shoska, picking shoska as you came down the hill – what is shoska is it a watercress, I always thought.
Ted: I thought it was spinach.
Martin: I doubt it would be spinach – I think it had a sweetness a tartness. Spinach doesn’t have that, and I think shoska is watercress, but I don’t know whether watercress has to be at the water. I don’t think it does.
Ted: I don’t know.
Martin: I think it will grow on a hillside.
Ted: I always thought it was spinach.
Martin: Bert said the same thing, but I felt like it was more like watercress.

Sóska is the Hungarian term for Sorrel, though it is often confused with spinach.]

Ted: It was probably sweetened up when it was prepared it would taste sweet, but it isn’t sweet naturally.
Martin: Now you may have a point there, but if you pick it on the hillside you don’t prepare it for anything, you just eat it right there. We did.
Ted: That’s right.
Martin: I recall as a child, of course being impressed by the mountain, it must have been a tall mountain. I don’t recall….I always had the impression, I always wondered what was on the other side of the mountain and I never did find out, it was far away, it was just beyond my comprehension.
Ted: Usually the mountains there surrounded us. Practically, the whole town. You could only get into the town through a pass in the mountain.


Ted (cont): These passes occurred in certain spots and I remember going with Dad on a horse and wagon we’d cross the river and go up the mountain and then there was a road on the other side there’s another little town called Buchem. We went there.
Martin: Buchem, would you call it BUCZOM or something?
Ted: It sounds like BUSC.
Martin: BUSCOM. I imagine that would be on a map. I am sorry I don’t have that map, I think you and I
Ted: I don’t know it would be on a map, but father’s brother lived there.
Martin: Now that wouldn’t be more than what…how many miles?
Ted: I would say it would be
Martin: A day’s ride?
Ted: I would say ten, fifteen miles, a day’s ride.
Martin: Yeah, it was a day’s ride on a horse, and possibly you would have to stay over and come back the next day.
Ted: That’s right, to visit him we’d have to go through the mountain pass.
Martin: Fifteen miles over a mountain and poor roads…
Ted: Mostly forest, there was a rough trail there you might say.
Martin: You would probably take your lunch along, and feed the horse on the way.
Ted: Well, yeah, always, we would take oats for the horse and something to eat on the way. But the mountains were – the range are the Carpathian Mountains.
Martin: It was a range of them. I thought I saw on the map they were called Carpathians and also Transylvanian Alps.
Ted: Transylvania is the big range and those cross Romania and goes through several countries, but the local range was called Carpathians.

[Note: The Carpathians are the largest mountain range in Europe, covering Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania and Serbia. The Transylvanian Alps are another name for the Southern Carpathians.]

Martin: Now, the house itself. I was talking to Bert last night just refreshing my mind. She said the floor was just a dirt floor. Was not a wood floor
Ted: That’s right. No basement. Sort of a clay, finished clay, hard clay.
Martin: The house itself, was it a wood house (Ted: Yeah) it wasn’t a log cabin, it was cabin like, but not log cabin
Ted: No, it wasn’t. Mostly the outside was plaster, but the frames were all wood. Everything was wood.
Martin: Probably hand hewn lumber.
Ted: Most likely, but I wouldn’t recall. I know it had plaster on the outside.
Martin: No plaster on the in[side], and we probably had a wood a stove to burn wood for heating and for baking and for cooking.
Ted: We had a wood stove. Not only that, but outside we had a clay oven, and you could bake in there for your breads.
Martin: We burned wood – and we would pick up firewood in the neighborhood.
Ted: There was no other fuel.
Martin: There was no oil, no coal.
Ted: We had plenty of wood all we had was to go up the mountain.
Martin: I guess we did a lot of that, all the kids would have to forage.
Ted: We’d pile the wood on our lawn along the house for the winter.
Martin: Like on any farm, of course now, around here.
Ted: We would chop it up and wait for use.
Martin: How big was the house. Was it one room?
Ted: The house was one room, yes
Martin: And here we were, 7, 8 people
Ted: We were at one time, all of us were there, there was 7 people.
Martin: Except for Al of course we were all born probably in that one house.

[Note: A reference to their brother, Allen, who was born in Chicago in 1914.]

Ted: That’s right.
Martin: Did we stay in one place all the time?
Ted: We were in one place, as far as I…
Martin: We never did move?
Ted: No, in the 11 years I spent there
Martin: Were you 11 you think?
Ted: Well, I was 11 when we came out, yeah.
Martin: So you were old enough to know as much about it as most people.
Ted: If I was born in nineteen hundred and two, I was there 9 years anyhow, from 1902 to 1911, I was there for nine years, so we were living in that one place all that time.

[Note: Their mother left for America in 1912. The rest of the family followed in 1913, so Ted would have been 11 by then.]

It's fun to hear each one of them remind the other something they had forgotten. My grandfather remembers hearing the squealing pigs after Ted mentions them, and my grandfather reminds Ted about their rolling down the hills as a pasttime. That's what kids did before videogames.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Database Size and Lifespan Revisited

On the first of this month I mentioned that my primary database had 1458 individuals in it. I also said I probably had enough unentered data to make that 2000.

Most of this unentered data came from a 694 individual register a cousin gave me from over 20 years of research on my paternal Cruvant branch of the tree. (One of the downsides of the Register numbering system is that it doesn't give numbers to spouses, so there are actually even more individuals in this document.)

Over the past two weeks I have entered all the data for descendants of my third great grandfather David Aron Kruvond. He did have two siblings whose descendants I haven't entered, but the information on those lines is sparse anyway. The size of the database is now 1951. So it was a pretty good estimate.

Of course, my cousin didn't type the Register by hand. She has her own database. I could have had her send me her GEDCOM, which I could have uploaded, and I would have had all her information in my database in a minute. But entering the vital statistics by hand helped me catch typographical errors I wouldn't have caught if I just imported all the data instantaneously. [I'm now going to ask her for the file, so I can have a separate database containing her extensive notes I didn't copy.]

For reasons that will become clear, I then began to wonder...

With the growth of my database in the past year, from 700 to almost 2000 individuals...are there any differences in the Lifespan Statistics I calculated a year ago.

(Numbers in parentheses below indicate value last year)

In my overall database, with now 1030 males and 921 females

Average Male Lifespan
60 (61)
Average Female Lifespan 62 (62)

This is nearly identical to what it was a year ago. It's interesting that there has been very little change here.

In my Cruvant branch, with 368 males and 367 females (an increase of 509 individuals from a year ago)

Average Male Lifespan 58 (68)
Average Female Lifespan 62 (70)

This is a significant drop, but not unexpected from what I have entered over the past two weeks. A large amount of this drop can be attributed to a high mortality in Lithuania between 1941-1943. I'm quite impressed we have all this information, but it is depressing to read repeatedly for cause of death 'townspeople with axes.' Part of me thinks I could have handled seeing the names of any of the death camps more easily than that repeated phrase.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Carnival of Genealogy - Swimsuit Edition - Miami - 1947

The theme for the 74th Carnival of Genealogy is once again: The Swimsuit Edition

In 1947 my great grandparents Barney Newmark, Bertha Cruvant Newmark, Herman Feinstein and Annie Blatt Feinstein vacationed in Miami with children and grandchildren. The two couples were friends before their children, my grandparents, Mel Newmark and Belle Feinstein were married.

Miami in the 1940s wasn't known for tolerance, and my great grandparents, particularly the Feinsteins, would have had difficulty with some hotels and restaurants from their names alone. But family lore says their difficulties grew as their vacation lengthened, due to a genetic trait of my great grandfather Herman Feinstein. I think these photographs are illustrative.

The Feinstein family originated in Poland, and Herman Feinstein's skin color was indistinguishable from his wife's and in-laws during most of the year. I don't believe he got this dark in normal St. Louis summers either.

Google Wave is Coming; It's Undertow Will Claim at Least One Victim

Google Wave is Coming, (ETA 'later this year') and it appears it could be 'game changing.'

Google has come up with many useful applications: Google Maps, Google Books, Google News to name three of them. They have all added to the overall internet experience. However, the designers behind Google Wave (the same programming team that designed Google Maps, incidentally) have come up with something that approaches revolutionary upheaval. I say this because they have taken the one part of the internet experience that predates the internet by over a decade, the one thing everyone is used to and has remained basically the same since the 1970s, and reconfigured it from scratch. E-mail.

Google Wave is open source - meaning Google is encouraging other companies to create their own Waves, so there will be user choice. You will be able to choose from Google Wave, Yahoo Wave, Acme Wave, etc, and they will all interact like email.

There is an hour and twenty minute demo available along with a 10-minute abridged version.

[What follows is my own interpretation of what I saw on the Demo]

Google Wave combines aspects of email, mailing lists, social networks, blogging, and wikis. At its most simple, it can be used exactly like an email-client. One person sends a message to another, and they respond, and then person A responds back. Instead of the email-client putting these messages together in a 'thread' like Gmail and other clients now do, they will appear in a series on one document - the Wave.

So instead of an inbox of email messages, you will have an inbox of several Waves. These waves may be an ongoing conversation between two or more friends/relatives/coworkers that lasts years, or a very short-lived conversation. Not much more than a change in nomenclature, but the revolution is in what can be done with the waves.

From the demo it appears only those in the Wave can add participants to the Wave. There will have to be a way to find the "wave addresses" of friends, coworkers, etc - like in Social Networks - though it may be difficult for strangers to send waves to you, unless you 'approve them'. Some have suggested this could mark the end of spam. It might also complicate legitimate electronic advertisement for companies -- for if all your friends, kin, and colleagues are communicating via Wave - and the only thing hitting your email box is 'junk mail', you're going to stop opening your email box. You will end up 'approving' your bank, cable company, etc for the 'important stuff', but the unsolicited mail will be stopped at the door. (You'll likely get an endless series of 'requests' to approve senders, but I am sure you will be able to go through the list, click yes on the 1 or 2 legitimate requests, and mass-delete the rest.)

You can do a lot more with a Wave than with a traditional email. First off, all participants can edit the wave document simultaneously, anywhere in the document, and the wave keeps track of who makes which edits. This will be useful for collaborative documents in a corporate environment.

You can drag and drop photos or videos into the document. A great way for family members to share photos from a trip.

There is also the option of copying an entire wave (or part of a wave) and pasting it onto your blog with a click of the button. It doesn't just copy the text - it copies the wave itself. In that a visitor to the blog can reply on the wave, and the reply will appear in the Wave-Client of all participants. And when more is added to the wave, it will automatically appear on the blog. The blog - and all its readers - have become a participant in the Wave.

This - appears - to reintroduce the threat of spam. It's not clear if *any* visitor to the blog will be able to interact with the Wave. I suspect that will be a modifiable setting.

Google wants companies to create applications/gadgets that will fuse with Waves. One Genealogical possibility I foresee is some company coming up with a way for participants on a wave to group-edit a family tree.

I suspect at some point in the future the monthly Geneablogger Scanfests will be held on a Wave.

And while it may take a few years - as there will be some resistant to change - I wholly suspect the grave for e-mail has just been dug. As someone who was sending email back in 1987, I have some fond memories, but the poor guy is ancient in technological years. It's time.

Czech Grocery Store uses Missouri Blogger's Family Photo for Advertising

A grocery store in the Czech Republic found the perfect family to promote its local delivery service. They were young, attractive, and the children had infectious smiles.

But the family had been plucked from a photo in cyberspace, and the stars had no idea they were endorsing a foreign grocer in an advertisement thousands of miles away. [Link]
A virtual Facebook friend saw the "life-size ad", took a photo of it, and sent it to the blogger. The article goes on to say that if this happened in the US, laws are such the response would be easy. You would just need to go to the company and say "show me the money." Things get a little more complicated with foreign countries.

This is something to consider by anyone who posts family photos on the web. The blogger "says she has learned an important lesson about posting pictures online: Always use low-resolution images (so they don't look so good when enlarged) or stick a digital watermark on the photo."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: The Oldest Jewish Cemetery in Europe

The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is considered the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe. Its oldest preserved tombstone is that of the poet-Rabbi, Avigdor Kara, from 1439.

A better known resident of the cemetery, though, is the non-mythical Rabbi Judah Loew. (Whether or not he created a golem is open to faith; However, Rabbi Judah Loew lived.) In 2000, after visiting several ancestral towns in Transylvania, my mother made a stop in Prague and took the below photograph.

Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel's tombstone
Photograph by Barbara Newmark, 2000.

Here's an older photograph for comparison. It appeared in the Jewish Encyclopedia (c. 1903). Clearly the building that is now behind and to the left of his tombstone was built in the last 100 years.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Barney Newmark and Bertha Cruvant - August 27, 1911

The theme for the 14th edition of the Smile for the Camera Carnival is: Wedding Belles.
Historically, couples married in the month of June to honor Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. Others did it to time conception so births wouldn't interfere with harvest work. And brides in the 15th century chose to marry in June because it coincided with their "annual bath" - that's right - ensuring a relatively sweet-smelling honeymoon. Show us a photograph of a wedding, a wedding party, a bride, a groom, the reception, or even the honeymoon.
I'd like to share two photos from the wedding of my paternal Great Grandparents Barney Newmark and Bertha Cruvant - on August 27, 1911

I haven't yet obtained the marriage certificate, but the date of the wedding is written on the back of the photo, and their son Mandell wrote August 27th down as their anniversary in his war diary. I haven't found their marriage in either St. Louis City or St. Louis County records; It is likely they were married in East St. Louis, Illinois, where the Cruvants were living at the time.

The date is significant in that it means that Bertha's 'gift' to Barney on their first wedding anniversary was my grandfather, Melvin Newmark, who was born on August 27, 1912.

Amanuensis Monday: The Post Office Inspector and the Stenographer - 1936

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

My grandfather, Martin Deutsch, began working for the Chicago Post Office in 1925 as a clerk while attending college. He received his law degree in 1931, and practiced law with his brother Ted for a few years part time while still employed with the post office. In 1933, he was promoted to Post Office Inspector, and in 1934 he was assigned to the St. Louis office where he met my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every, who was a stenographer. Apparently the sparks flew pretty quickly, as he writes in 1936 that they've been secretly seeing each other for two years.

Below is a letter he wrote to the Chief Inspector in Washington D.C. in November of 1936, after recovering from an attack of appendicitis.

Note the stenographer initials in the fifth line, they will be referred to in the letter.

Post Office Department
M.J. Deutsch
MV Saint Louis, Missouri, December 6, 1936

Mr. K.P. Aldrich,
Chief Inspector,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Aldrich:

It was pleasing to hear from you while I was in the hospital. The thoughtfulness and consideration shown by both you and Mr. Noah during my illness proved to be very encouraging and was greatly appreciated. Fortunately, while my attack of appendicitis was very sudden, it was not severe, and I apparently recovered almost as quickly as I became ill. I am now completely well and have returned to work. As usual after such an event, work for the first week or so will probably consist of telling everybody about “my operation.”

Mr. Noah told me that he was greatly shocked when he learned that I was in the hospital, but I think that he received even a greater jolt when I returned to work and told him that I was soon to be married. These two shocks should have been enough for any person at one time, but I didn't even stop there. For when I told Mr. Noah who the bride was to be, it was almost necessary to pick him up from the floor and revive him. However, when he had fully recovered he was certainly very enthusiastic in showing his approval and offered his hearty congratulations.

After all this preparation I hope that you will not also be too much overcome if I tell you that Myrtle Van Every and I are to be married. While this announcement appears to be sudden, it is in fact the result of long and close associations, as Myrtle and I have been seeing each other socially fairly regularly for the past two years. Because of our circumstances at the office, in order to avoid gossip and embarrassment, our associations have necessarily been kept secret, and they are not even now generally known except by a few close friends.

Myrtle and I have planned to be married on December 31st, after which we intend to take a leave of absence for approximately a month. Myrtle, of course, will resign at the expiration of her annual leave. Mr. Noah is aware of our plans which have his full approval. He told me that he is certainly sorry to lose a good stenographer, and Myrtle expresses a mutual regret at being forced to leave his employ.

I don't know what Mr. Noah can plan henceforth to insure permanency in his office force. I have heard that when he became Inspector in Charge he was averse to employing male clerks, because, an he expressed it, “Those dern fools always want to become inspectors as soon as they get a little larnin.” Now it seems the situation is just as critical if he secures women employees, because the darn fools will probably always want to get married. Myrtle says that to be a post office inspector would have been the prime ambition of her life, but of course not being able to achieve such a position she seems to be doing the next best thing by becoming the wife of an inspector. In these circumstances I can assure you that, while not officially on the payrolls, she will certainly still be in the service. For as you can see by the stenographer's initials appearing at the head of this letter, I have taken advantage of the situation and will no doubt continue to do so indefinitely and perhaps infinitely.

As we have indicated, our contemplated marriage is being kept a secret. Thus far you and Mr. Noah are the only ones aware of it, and we would like it to be kept quiet generally until the event has occurred. Of course, we would like for Mr. Gartland to know about it and we would appreciate it if you would mention us to him.

Myrtle and I both send our best regards end sincere greetings for the coming holidays.

Very sincerely,

Post Office Inspector.

I really enjoy this letter a lot - obviously for the insight it gives into my grandparents' secret office romance, but also how it reveals my grandfather's sense of humor.

They were married on December 31, 1936 - in Springfield, Illinois by a Justice of the Peace while they were driving to Chicago to attend the wedding of Martin's sister Bert. If it weren't for this letter, I might think the marriage was spontaneous. But it was at least planned for a month in advance.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

73rd Carnival of Genealogy is posted

The 73rd Carnival of Genealogy: The Good Earth has been posted, and it marks the completion of three years of the Carnival of Genealogy.

The theme for the 74th carnival:
Back by popular demand, the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Swimsuit Edition! Why should Sports Illustrated have all the fun? This is your chance to show off the bathing beauties in your family. Pull out the old photos of Grandma Moses in her seaside bloomers, Auntie Mae in her pin-up girl suit from the 1940s or 50s, cousin Paula in her psychedelic bikini from the 1970s, or even yourself in your Speedo! Let's have some fun here! Memorial Weekend is behind us and that means the start of the summer sun, sand, and lakeside season so let's get in the mood with summer fun photos. What? You don't have any swimsuit photos you dare to share? No problem! Tell us your best family beach stories instead!
[More Info]
Here's the photo of me I scanned for this theme last year. At that point in time, as I said in the post, I didn't have swimsuit photos of anyone who couldn't get even with me for posting them. That changed shortly thereafter in a search through my grandparents' albums, but I had a feeling this theme would come around again, so I've waited. I think I should be able to put the post together this weekend.

Almasu Romania / Varalmas Hungary

Monday when I posted the transcript of my grandfather and his brother discussing their home village in Transylvania, I included photographs of nearby Cluj I had found on the web. Cluj had been mentioned on the tape, but I noted that wasn't the village they were describing. After she saw the post, my mother reminded me that when she had visited in 2000, she had taken some photographs I was welcome to scan and post here. Several photographs appear below from what is now Almasu, Romania, and 100 years ago was Varalmas, Hungary.

Except for the telephone poles, and the partially paved road, the main street of the town might not look much different than it did 100 years ago.

They are still using wells as their primary source of water.

While there are no Jews left in the town, there are two Jewish cemeteries that remain. My parents, who were there with cousins from Israel who knew both Hebrew and Hungarian so they could read the tombstones, searched for the tombstone of Armon Deutsch, a brother of my grandfather who died tragically. They were unsuccessful. It isn't certain that there was a stone marker for the grave, or maybe it had faded beyond readability.

On the tape they made in 1977, my grandfather and his brother indicated that the house they lived in was by the river that ran through the town. There were no other details, so my parents found a house by the river they decided was representative of the ones they saw.

It appears as if the house could be over 100 years old. While run down, it was likely in better shape in its younger days.

My great uncle talks about at age 8 driving a horse and carriage with bottles of plum brandy (slivowitz) to a local brewery. Horse and carriage is still the primary means of transportation in the town. My father shows up in this photograph.

Finally, there is a photograph of the Huedin Train Station. Huedin is the nearest town that had a train station in the early 1900s, and is likely the train station from which my grandfather's family left - his mother in 1912, and the rest of the family in 1913.

The name of the town (Varalmas) means Apple Fort. You can barely see the fort in the distance in the photograph of the cemetery above. A close-up view of the remains can be seen here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Belated Explanation of Blog Title

It has been brought to my attention that in my two years of genealogy blogging I haven't been explicit about the meaning behind my blog's title. An old header logo explained it somewhat, but I haven't written a post, and it might not be immediately obvious to all.

Pennsylvania Dutch is a term often used to describe those of Germanic ancestry who immigrated to the state of Pennsylvania and vicinity prior to 1800.

I was talking about my diverse ancestry one evening with some friends, and in mentioning how my maternal grandfather came from Transylvania, and my maternal grandmother had Dutch (Holland) ancestry, I came upon what I considered a humorous pun. I had a mental image of a Haight-Ashbury Vampire, which obviously plays upon some unfair stereotypes of both regions, but it was an enjoyable image.

While it was intended as a pun on "Pennsylvania Dutch", I didn't use the phrase "Transylvania Dutch", which I know has caused some confusion. I felt that would imply someone who lived in Transylvania of Dutch ancestry, which doesn't describe me, or to my knowledge any of my ancestors. I called it Transylvanian Dutch, since if I wished to be a 'hyphenated American' I could call myself a Transylvanian-Dutch-American.

Of course, I really would be a Transylvanian-Dutch-British-Polish-Lithuanian-American which is a mouthful. (Even in that description, I don't include in there any Native American ancestry, which while I believe I have some, I'm not sure how much.) I don't really consider myself a hyphenated American though. I consider myself American. It's my ancestry that is diverse in nationality, not me. Here's a breakdown by numbers.

I came up with the term in January of 2005, which is also when I registered the domain name, TransylvanianDutch.com. This was about two years before my genealogy research obsession initiated.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Size of my GEDCOM

There has been some discussion of how large is large with respect to genealogy databases (GEDCOMs). Tamura Jones began the discussion by comparing different software vendors definition of 'large', which apparently varies from 400,000 down to 2,500 individuals. (Seven generations is considered large by one vendor, and Tamura notes that can be as small as 7 individuals.) As a former computer programmer, I completely agree with the idea that software vendors should strive to understand, and address, the actual 'needs of the user.' However, the marketing department obviously has other goals, and when their product can't meet those needs, it is still their job to find as many buyers as they can.

Valerie at Begin with Craft says her GEDCOM is extra small by Tamura's standards. And while Randy Seaver at Geneamusing considers his database of 25,000 large, Tamura feels "a well-researched medium-size ancestry can easily contain 25,000 individuals or more." (He explains this in his article Medium Size Genealogy).

I have only been doing research for 2 years - where does my database fit in this playground yardstick competition?

My "master" database has 1458 individuals. Even smaller than Valerie's, though she has been researching for five years longer than me. However, I probably have sufficient unentered data to increase that to 2,000. My paternal lines go back 5 generations, while some of my maternal lines go back over 10. I also downloaded a 6795 person GEDCOM from WorldConnect, where all the individuals are related to me, as we are all descendants of Henry Rosenberger. However, I don't have a desire to merge it with my master database, as the relatives I 'care' about would be dwarfed by those that are of less interest to me. So my current information of entered and unentered data is somewhere around 8,000 individuals, which I feel is rather good for 2 years. Though I have no delusions about its size, and hope for it to grow.

The thing is, with maternal ancestry that arrived on the shores of this continent in the 1600s, I could probably go bonkers downloading and merging publicly available GEDCOMs of varying degrees of reliability. The reliability of the data, though, is important to me. And while I have interest in my Colonial ancestors, having all of their descendants in a database isn't one of my current goals. So I don't expect my database to grow exorbitantly. [I downloaded the Rosenberger database mainly because it is entered from a descendancy published in 1906, so I at least know the source.] Over time my goals might change, but right now they are much more modest.